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Flames Season On The Line, Sutter Set To Ride With Markstrom

Calgary Flames head coach Darryl Sutter puts faith in Markstrom to help turn season around, promises to give him bulk of workload down the stretch.



Calgary Flames head coach Darryl Sutter has made his decision. 

He can’t keep waiting for one of his two goaltenders to get hot and help salvage a season that is looking less likely to end in a playoff appearance every day. 

So he’s rolling with his $6-million man. 

“We need Marky to get hot. He’s such a great teammate and great guy,” Sutter said of Jacob Markstrom on Wednesday. “Now he’s got to really put his foot on it.”

The Flames goaltending has been a story all season long. Just not the same story as last season when Markstrom and Dan Vladar were in Jennings contention and Markstrom finished as runner-up for the Vezina. 

“I think we’ve given up too many goals against,” Sutter said. “Our save percentage is not where it needs to be. That’s clear. We’ve given up the second-fewest shots in the NHL, so we really should have a better record, but that’s the past and you need to deal with it.”

It's been a rollercoaster ride in the blue paint this season, with each goaltender taking turns playing well for spurts, and poorly for others. There hasn’t been a prolonged stretch of sensational play — which is one of the reasons the Flames haven’t strung together more than three wins in a row all year. 

And the last time they did it is a distant memory at this point.

So, with the playoffs becoming a longshot with every loss, Sutter is hoping Markstrom can beat the odds and turn things around. 

The 33-year-old has a lot to prove. 

Markstrom has gone 15-15-8 this season with a 2.96 goals-against average and .887 save percentage. The Flames are the only team yet to earn a shutout this season. 

After getting the hook against his former Boston Bruins on Tuesday, Vladar’s digits are nearly as dismal — a 2.95 goals-against average and .895 save percentage.

Together, the Calgary Flames netminders put up the NHL’s worst save percentage in the month of February (.844). And while Vladar gave up a goal on the first shot he faced for the first time on Tuesday, it put the team total to eight. 

It’s all about the next shot and next save. 

There’s nothing he can change to ensure he stops the first one.

“I don’t think I’m going to switch to a righty glove or throw two blockers or three blockers,” Markstrom said, without cracking a smile. “You have to stick to it and work on details and work on the game and trust it. The goalie position is so much more mental than a lot of people think. It’s the confidence level. You’ve got to start building it in the gym and start building it in practice.”

His scrum ended with one final question — whether he felt the confidence is there right now. 

“Oh, highest ever.”

He’ll certainly get a chance to prove it. And maybe getting that vote of confidence from Sutter is what he needed.

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